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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 168: The Rite

The Rite
Give me a 'T'!

Quick, think of a movie where the Devil possesses someone and it's up to 2 priests, one suffering from a crisis of faith, to exorcise it. You're probably thinking The Exorcist, right? That's the problem with just about every possession/exorcism horror movie; they all sound like The Exorcist. It's almost unfair to compare anything that came after The Exorcist because they're just not going to come close. People were convinced that Satan was actually imprinted onto the film and people legitimately fled theaters in horror. You can't beat press like that. It's up to newer movies to set themselves apart and be special, not just rehash the same old thing. It helps to have Anthony Hopkins.

The Rite is a 2011 horror movie starring Colin O'Donoghue (The Tudors, Proof) as Michael Kovak and Anthony Hopkins (Silence Of The Lambs, Thor) as Father Lucas Trevant. Michael is disillusioned as a mortician, following in his father's (Rutger Hauer, Blade Runner, Hobo With A Shotgun) footsteps and decides to go to seminary school. He does not feel a true connection with God and even questions his existence. After being ordained, Michael writes a letter of resignation that is rejected by his superior. He is warned that his scholarship would be revoked and he would owe $100,000 in loans. After giving last rites to a woman dying after an accident, Michael is sent to Rome to study exorcisms in exchange for loan payments. In class, he meets a reporter named Angelina (Alice Braga, City of God, Predators) who is writing about exorcisms. Still an unbeliever, Michael is sent to see Father Lucas, a Welsh priest experienced in exorcisms. They meet with a young pregnant girl named Rosaria who appears to be possessed. Despite witnessing strange events, like Rosaria coughing up nails, Michael remains skeptical. A possessed Rosaria beings to address Michael and ask him very specific questions about his father and his faith. Her condition worsens and she is committed to a hospital where she eventually dies. Father Lucas is distraught and begins to act strangely. Michael learns that his father has had a stroke. He speaks to his father on the phone, but it interrupted by a doctor saying his father died earlier in the day. Michael begins to hear various voices torturing and testing him. Along with Angelina, Michael goes to Father Lucas only to find that he himself has become possessed. Will Michael be able to save Father Lucas and himself?

"Made in China"? What the Hell?!

The Rite is based on “actual events” from the book The Making of a Modern Exorcist. I'm not really sure what their definition of actual events are, but it gives an interesting perspective to the movie. Like I said, it's hard to not compare The Rite to The Exorcist. Both movies are very similar with the main difference being which character has a crisis of faith. This is your standard exorcism movie with very little in the way of actual horror. The spiritual journey of the characters is fine, if not a tad bit predictable. Sure, there's a few jolts here and there, but nothing particularly scary. If you're the religious type, you may find yourself frightened and affected with all the demon talk, but your average horror fan won't find much terror. The cinematography is very eerie and the shots of Rome give the movie an air of authenticity not seen in some other religious-heavy horror movies.

Anthony Hopkins really carries the movie. He can't act in a McDonald's commercial and make it compelling. He essentially plays two roles in the movie, one as Father Lucas and one as a demonic possession. He does both well, but some of the lines he is given as the demon are unintentionally hilarious. I almost feel bad that Sir Anthony had to say some of these ridiculous things. It's not the content that's bad, it just sounds like a 15 year old wrote them. Colin O'Donoghue gives a tepid performance, almost unsure of what he should be doing or feeling. Rutger Hauer is only briefly in the movie, which is a shame, but he does well enough. Despite some very good acting, the movie is way too long at almost 2 hours and the pace is far too slow. There's some action, but it's not enough for such a long movie. The effects and makeup are good, but I could have used more.

Does this collar make me look fat?

Based on the story, The Rite is very similar to The Exorcist. The Rite tries to become it's own movie with a more polished Hollywoodification of the whole exorcism genre. It's stylish and looks pretty, but lacks any real action or horror. Anthony Hopkins is great, but can only carry a movie so far. It's too long and the pacing is off, muting any real sense of dread. The Rite is by no means a bad movie, it's just OK and could have been much better. If you want to see a good acting performance, The Rite worth your time. Otherwise, no need to rush out and see it.


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